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Transcript: The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, December 2, 2020

Guests: Irwin Redlener, Maya Wiley, James Carville, Emily Jane Fox


White House issues somber warnings to states, stressing COVID-19 risk at historic high. U.K. approves emergency use of Pfizer vaccine. Officials update U.S. vaccine distribution timetable. Donald Trump attacks election in new 46-minutes video rant. Ivanka Trump deposed by D.C. investigators. Joe Biden holds digital economic roundtable. U.S. COVID-19 crisis reaches another grim milestone. Obama cautions activists against using "defund the police" slogan. President Trump has discussed possibility of pardons for family members.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST: Well, good evening once again. Day 1,413 now of the Trump administration, leaving 49 days until Inauguration Day, it's been 25 days since the election was called for Joe Biden.

And we have set another grim record tonight, over 2700 deaths now in 24 hours time. That's a record for this pandemic. That means it's worse than the battle days, the darkest days of the pandemic last spring. It also means that an American is now dying about every 35 seconds.

We are also at a record number for hospitalizations with over 100,000 people hospitalized tonight. Hospitalizations, as you know, have doubled since November one. No region of our country has been spared.

NBC News has obtained the latest White House task force report sent to the states this week. It says "The COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high." It warns, "We are in a very dangerous place due to the current extremely high COVID baseline and limited hospital capacity."

And just this morning and unvarnished assessment at long last, where we might be headed this from the CDC director.


DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, CDC DIRECTOR: The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they're going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation. Largely because of the stress that's going to put on our healthcare system. We're in that range potentially now of starting to see 1500 to 2000 to 2500 deaths a day from this virus. So I do think unfortunately, before we see February, we could be close to foreign 50,000 Americans have died from this virus.


WILLIAMS: There was another alarming projection today. Along those same lines from the folks out in the Pacific Northwest, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation University of Washington. They're warning the U.S. is on track indeed to surpass 471,000 deaths by the first of March. As this country grapples with the grim realities of this latest spike, big news arrived from across the Atlantic just after we got off the air last night.

Great Britain has become the first nation to approve emergency use of Pfizer's COVID vaccine. Distribution expected to begin next week, which is when the FDA is expected to start the review process in this country.

Earlier today, U.S. health officials gave their predictions for when the immunizations might begin in earnest here.


ALEX AZAR, HHS SECRETARY: If all goes well, we can make our first shipments of vaccine to state this month. And we are on track to be able to ship enough vaccine for 20 million Americans before the end of the year.

MONCEP SLAOUI, CHIEF ADVISER, OPERATION WARP SPEED: So between December, mid December, and end of -- sorry, in February, and end of February, we will have potentially immunize 100 million people.


WILLIAMS: Also today the CDC revised its guidance for people exposed to the virus. They're now saying 14 to 10 days quarantine if no symptoms and just seven days when the test is negative and there are no symptoms. If you can follow that, as has been the case for weeks, there was little in the way of comment on any of this from our president today. But he did find time to record a 46 minute diatribe full of the same false claims he's been making for the past month about having won the election, about voter fraud, the whole vote being rigged. The bizarre remarks were recorded in the White House diplomatic room and delivered with no news media present indicating perhaps the White House was aware networks wouldn't carry it anyway.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Leading up to the presidential election, we were warned that we should not declare a premature victory. My opponent was told to stay away from the election, don't campaign. We don't need you. They were acting like they already knew what the outcome was going to be. They had it covered. And perhaps they did that. But Wisconsin, we're leading by a lot. And then at 3:42 in the morning, there was this. It was a massive dump of votes. Mostly Biden, almost all Biden, I went from leading by a lot to losing by a little. Ultimately I am prepared to accept any accurate election result. And I hope that Joe Biden is as well.


WILLIAMS: That's about how that went all conspiracy theories all painting him as the victim. Just yesterday his Attorney General Bill Barr said he saw no widespread evidence of election fraud. Well, tonight The Washington Post reporting that didn't exactly go over well with Trump. Not surprisingly, one senior official suggested Barr could soon be fired. And administration official and two additional people familiar with the matter are telling NBC News tonight, Trump is not ruling out firing Barr.

Tonight Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani is still trying for his part to overturn the election. He spent this evening in Michigan at another event with Republican lawmakers to try to convince them to appoint pro Trump electors who would ignore the official certification of Joe Biden's victory.

Wild conspiracy theories over the elections are now threatening to influence next month critical Senate races in Georgia. Pro-Trump attorney Lin Wood and former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell today hosted what was billed as a stop the steel, S-T-E-E-L rally in Atlanta. This is the same Lynn Wood, the gentleman who looks like a mini Trump who represented Richard Jewell as a personal injury lawyer. Today he seemed to be mirroring the president he's so fond of.

Wood weighed in on Georgia's runoff races that will decide nothing less than control of the U.S. Senate. Warning the two GOP candidates had better demand and investigation into the presidential election or else.


TRUMP: Do not be fool twice. This is Georgia, we ain't damn. If Kelly Loeffler wants your vote, if David Perdue wants your vote, they're got their earning. If Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue do not do it, they have not earned your vote. Don't give it to them. Why would you go back and vote in another rigged election, for God's sakes fix it.


WILLIAMS: Let's just take a second just to review. That man is urging his fellow Republicans to withhold their votes in the two Georgia Senate races that will decide control of the U.S. Senate. And Trump's first national security adviser, the now pardon, Mike Flynn, is actually calling on the president to invoke martial law in order to hold a new election. You don't see that often from a Retired Three Star Army General.

Also tonight we've confirmed the president's daughter and advisor Ivanka sat for a deposition yesterday in a case that alleges the misuse of funds from Trump's inauguration back in 2017. It's a lot. We'll have more on that later.

Meanwhile, there may finally be progress to report toward reaching an agreement on a pandemic relief bill for all those who need it before Congress goes on their next richly deserved holiday break. Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have indicated they will support the $908 billion aid package crafted by a group of bipartisan lawmakers as the basis for some sort of final deal.

This afternoon President-elect Biden spoke was workers have been struggling during this economic downturn caused by the pandemic.


KAREN COFFEY, UNEMPLOYED SINCE MARCH: We are really suffering. And it just hurts us when we hear people that don't have any issue, politicians that are doing just fine, when they say, that they don't need that extra money. They're just lazy. They need to get a job. We want to be working. We want to be able to go back to our old jobs that we had.

JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: And my hope is that we'll be able to help in a short order. But that depends a lot on our friends in Congress and the other side who are prepared to take the action has to be taken.


WILLIAMS: With that, let's bring in our leadoff guests on this Wednesday night, Robert Costa, National Political Reporter with The Washington Post, Host of Washington Week on PBS, Shannon Pettypiece also a veteran Washington journalist, our Senior White House Reporter over at NBC News Digital, and Dr. Irwin Redlener, Founding Director of Columbia University National Center for Disaster Preparedness with an expertise in pandemics that we call on often.

Good evening and welcome to you all. Shannon, let's talk about this 46 minute recorded video in the television business, we call this paid TV. It's not news. It's not part of a newscast. It's not part of coverage. So you pay for the time and sadly in this case, it was on the taxpayer facilities. With a taxpayer backdrop the people's house, the White House, the President of the United States, what went into this?

SHANNON PETTYPIECE, NBC NEWS.COM SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Right. And as you noted earlier, this was not one of those instances. And I know it might seem like a bit of minutia to people watching this at home. But this was one of those instances where the President makes an address to the news media where you bring a small group of reporters in with television cameras, and, you know, he makes it addressed reporters, and then reporters sometimes presumably, would have a chance to ask questions afterwards.

This was taped by the White House communications office, it was posted on the White House, Facebook page and Twitter account. So this was not anything that the news media was involved. So it was essentially an infomercial.

And really one of the President's last attempts to try and get his perceived messaging out there. No one is a, you know, even his allies at this point, really amplifying this message, he is trying to get out there about widespread voter fraud. You're not hearing it from his Senate allies, his House allies, even the vice president, well, he still maintains -- he is behind the president once every legal vote counted, and is sticking with the company line is not out there charging this fight.

So really, what the President has left is his social media accounts. So that's what he is doing today. With, as you mentioned, this 46 minute video, which was basically a reading of his twitter feed from the past three weeks. There was no new information in it, no new announcements, no new evidence, it was continuing the same lines he had before including this chart that you held up where he appears to be baffled when I'm presuming those other votes from a heavily Democratic era, like Milwaukee County or a large batch of mail-in votes came in. And supposedly no one has informed him yet that we get these large dumps from heavily democratic areas that can change the results of the election, as votes are rolling. And so yeah, that's really we're kind of seeing this tail and last gasp of him trying to make this argument about voter fraud.

WILLIAMS: And indeed, Shannon, to your point, anyone who has watched our friend Steve Kornacki, on any election night, knows that is precisely how it works. We're waiting. We're waiting. We're waiting. His TV wall fills up with votes. And suddenly we're not waiting any longer.

Robert Costa of the comparison in your newspaper over the weekend, with the president and a long dispatched former King of England continues to reverberate, what do you know about what's going on inside? And by the way, Bob, what's the chance the Attorney General serves out his remaining 49 days?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Brian, my sources tonight say the Attorney General is on thin ice with President Trump. President Trump's not necessarily going to push him out immediately. It may try to bully him publicly, to push back against the claim. The statement of reality made by the Attorney General that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud the comment he made to the Associated Press.

My Trump sources tonight are saying that the President's complaints his grievances inside of the West Wing in recent days have reminded them about the campaign early on, when the crowd sizes weren't up to the levels he wanted. He would rant behind the scenes that they were exorbitant and huge, even if they weren't and people were bewildered around him saying, well, he saw this it wasn't 50,000 people that arena was only 10,000 people, or there couldn't have been that number of people. But President Trump always make statements that are if not exaggerations, they could be lies just to make a point about his brand, and his own grandiosity, and we're seeing that reflected in this critical moment for American democracy.

WILLIAMS: Doctor, I'm coming to you and there's no gentle way to put this, 2,700 souls who were with us when we came on the air last night are gone by air time tonight. And you're telling me it can get worse than an American dying roughly every 35 seconds worse than 100,000 of our fellow citizens in the hospital tonight?

DR. IRWIN REDLENER, EXPERT ON PANDEMIC INFLUENZA: Yeah, Brian, unfortunately, the trajectory still remains upward bound. And no one knows exactly when it's going to start to decline but we are in really big trouble. And the manifestations other than the tragedy of this many deaths, it's absolutely astounding. And I think we're going to end up for this is over hitting 700 plus thousand Americans dying maybe by next summer.

But the thing that is really troubling also right now is the overwhelming of America and hospital and healthcare systems. You know, we have almost 100,000 people in the hospital. About 20% of those people are in intensive care units. And the hospital system itself is on the brink of a major disaster and collapse. The health care workers are exhausted. The supplies are running out. We've used up the federal assets that we had, that could help supplement the resources at these places, Brian. And I we don't know where it's going to end.

But, you know, we need to have Donald Trump removed from the public stage right now. He continues to foster not only the craziness of contesting the election still, but also his whack amole theories about what's causing, what he did and didn't do and so on, relative to the pandemic? He needs to go away. And we need the new leadership to be stepping in right now, helping reassure the 70 million people that voted for him that things are going to get better. We're going to get truthfulness and a real plan to help get this under control, Brian.

WILLIAMS: Shannon, Scott Atlas has left the West Wing, the world shrugged. Actually members of the medical community shared his departure because of the incalculable damage he did advising this president as a radiologist from Stanford with zero experience in this line of work, with no coronavirus strategy, as we're having this conversation, Geraldo Rivera suggests they call the vaccine, the Trump vaccine. The White House got behind that idea today. Is this their strategy on coronavirus?

PETTYPIECE: For a while it has been all about the vaccine. And the president, trying increasingly to get as much credit as he can for the vaccine, sort of as if he were one of the scientists or doctors who have devoted their life to vaccine research. Or if this vaccine just sort of magically appeared through the air and was not the product of decades of scientific work. He wants this credit for this vaccine to fall to him. He is been incredibly focused for weeks, if not months on trying to get the most credit for the vaccine.

But as you mentioned, the Coronavirus Task Force in the White House is really, for months now been crippled and hobbled. It is really at this point up to the states to be implementing their own regulations. Many states are choosing not to put in additional regulations essentially leaving people on their own. And there is absolutely no indications that there's going to be any change of strategy from the White House and even after the election when you know votes don't matter. I think it still remains baffling to even people close to the President about why he doesn't come out and say to the millions of people who love him and trust him, you know, and put on a mask. I want to see all of you healthy for next Thanksgiving. Why he doesn't tell people just stay at home, the vaccine is coming. You can have your Thanksgiving in the spring. Why that message is just not there. Obviously he's singularly focused on the election and his brand about winning and denying the loss. But it does, as I've talked to people, continue to baffle them why he is not giving a stronger message on coronavirus even after the election.

WILLIAMS: So, Robert, two Senate races in Georgia, nothing less than control of the U.S. Senate is at stake. Sarcasm alert, Republicans in D.C. must be really psyched to hear that lawyer trying to suppress Republican votes at that rally today. They must be really psyched at the knowledge the president is coming to Georgia on Saturday. How can he not relitigate his own loss and rail against what he calls a rigged election process when everything's on the line for the Republican Party?

COSTA: And, Brian, there are additional complications for Republicans at this moment in Georgia. You have both of the incumbent Republican senators, Senator Perdue and Loeffler facing scrutiny over the past year for their stock trades. And that's creating an issue for even some suburban Republicans in the Atlanta area.

The President is coming to Georgia, but he's not going anywhere near Atlanta. It's going to a rural area trying to stoke that Trump vote. But this is really about a new Georgia as well. And you have Raphael Warnock, the Reverend from Martin Luther King's church, late Martin Luther King's church and Jon Ossoff, who's in his 30s, but has run a Special House Race that got national attention, and has really been a progressive uniter in Georgia at this point, who have not made any major stumbles.

Republicans have tried to run against Warnock as some kind of ally of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, but that hasn't stuck on the Warnock campaign in a way that race and racial issues may have stuck in the past. So you have the democrats feel Feeling good about that Stacey Abrams stitch together coalition and the stumbles by both the Republican incumbents and President Trump.

WILLIAMS: Dr. Redlener, you get the last word, very simple question. I mentioned the headline after we got off the air last night that the U.K. would be first to get the virus. How and why did that happen?

REDLENER: The vaccine? Forgive me, to get the vaccine? Well, yeah. So one of the things that happened in the U.K. and much of Europe is that they take the data that's coming directly from the manufacturers, we have a more rigorous process. And I think it's a good thing here in the U.S. where we have, you know, independent non manufacturers review of the data and to make sure it's all valid before it goes out. I think it's entirely appropriate.

You know, Brian, you know, this issue about whether the President gets credit for the vaccine. I don't know, there's a lot of hands of scientists who've spent decades as Shannon said, working on this. What Trump does get credit for are the extraordinary fatalities we've seen with this virus. He's been a complete, ignorant purveyor of misinformation for many, many months and some of the tragedies many of them that we've experienced in America, lay in his lap and remain blood on Donald Trump's hands unfortunately.

WILLIAMS: We'll go out on that ominous note from a learned man with our thanks to Robert Costa, to Shannon Pettypiece, and Dr. Irwin Redlener on this Wednesday night.

Coming up for us, some controversial observations from the former president, we'll ask James Carville and Maya Wiley for their takes on Obama's words.

And later, the partisan speculation around the Trump family, is there an innocent reason you'd want to pardon your own kids? THE 11TH HOUR just getting underway on this Wednesday night of tree lightings, by the way from the Capitol, to the office building. We vaguely remember Rockefeller Center in New York.


WILLIAMS: President Obama is speaking out, warning activists in his party to stay away from the, defund the police slogan, if they want to accomplish real change. Here's what he told journalist Peter Hamby during an interview on Snapchat today.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: If you believe as I do, that, we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it's not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan like, defund the police. But you know, you've lost a big audience, the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you're actually going to get the changes you want done.

But if you instead say, let's reform the police department, so that everybody's being treated fairly, you know, divert young people from getting into crime, and if there's a homeless guy can maybe we send a mental health worker there instead of an armed unit that could end up resulting in a tragedy. Suddenly, a whole bunch of folks who might not otherwise listen to you are listening to you.


WILLIAMS: A lot to talk about there. And back with us again tonight to do that two of our returning veterans, James Carville, Veteran Democratic Strategist who rose to national fame with the Clinton presidential campaign. These days co-host of the politics, war room podcast, and Maya Wiley, Civil Rights Attorney, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, former staffer in the New York City mayor's office, who's now officially a candidate in the race for mayor, November of 2021.

Good to see you both Maya. It's been too long. Great to have you back on. Let's talk about what Barack Obama just said. I am guessing that you like most Americans, when you call 911 expect something to happen, especially if you're in extremists. And I am guessing you're aware that there are Democratic candidates who went nowhere near this phrase, who had it hung on them, some of them went down to defeat?

MAYA WILEY, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: Yeah, look, let's focus on what matters here. President Obama was saying something very important, which is that the way in which we need to communicate to a broad and diverse audience, it doesn't always share the same views is to talk about what we are talking about.

So in New York City, for example, what we are talking about is that we have 5000 people who are employed by the New York City Police Department and assigned to schools to, "keep the public safety," but we only have about 560 people for their for the mental health of 1.1 million children.

Now, obviously, when we're talking about right sizing the department and making sure that we have the investments in public safety and in meeting the needs of people, being concrete, being specific, being clear is a way to broaden the tent. And at the same time, you know, what we saw, both in just the past election, despite Donald Trump's attempts to call it illegitimate is that the American people spoke, and whether it was white voters in the suburb, or black people registering to vote in very high numbers, none of what we are talking about right now prevented that. And in fact, it created a greater level of engagement.

And so what we have to confront is that we need to talk about how to keep people safe. And that includes safety from police violence. And we need to recognize that people need to talk about it from vantage points, and we should not get caught up in slogans, we should get caught up in solution. And that's what's most important for folks running for public office do.

WILLIAMS: OK, James, this is a part of that. And bear with me. This is a quote Joe Biden gave Tom Friedman. I'm not going to enter any new trade agreement with anybody until we have made major investments here at home and in our workers and in education. At this and this time, he insisted rural America will not be left behind. You know, it really does go to the issue of dignity, how you treat people, Biden said. I think they just feel forgotten. I think we forgot them.

James, you and I talked from time to time about this party, what used to be their base. What used to be their base, the folks who don't shop at Whole Foods, as you know, in rural America, law enforcement can be a sheriff's deputy, a 40 minute drive from your house. So you really hope there's someone at the other end of the line that hasn't been defunded when you make the call. Talk about this and I know, James, you have called that slogan, maybe the worst to be introduced into our modern politics in many, many years.

JAMES CARVILLE, VETERAN DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: When I saw President Obama, who was reminding him why he never lost an election, because he's a very good politician. And he understands the power of words. Yes, we can. That was three words. It's the economy, stupid. Those were three words, protect preexisting conditions, those three words.

The problem with the defund the police, if I meant different things to different people, but it came across as three words that people claim to was the most famous three words uttered in a cycle. It was unfortunate. In the Democratic Party, we want to be a majoritian (ph) party. And I point this out to everyone, we have to realize that 18 percent of the people in the United States have like 52 senators. And until we understand that, and expand our coalition, and we are open to diversity, but why do we exclude rural people from our coalition, we should try to embrace and talk about things that matter to them. And you know, they care about Medicare, they care about the minimum wage, they care about Medicaid expansion. They care about many of the things that urban Democrats care about also.

So if we stop these poisonous slogans, and talk about people's lives, and I hope that's what we do in Georgia. We got two excellent candidates down there and all what the Republicans are talking about, if not both of them, we didn't get to both, you know, men bought into, you know, trucks that had 46 men thing, that strikes me as a man that's gone to the penitentiary and he knows he's gone to the penitentiary. He's losing it fast.

But I hope we broaden our coalition and talk about things that shared values that rural people and suburban people and urban people shared and have to go. And we do that, we can do a lot better.

WILLIAMS: Two fascinating answers from both of our guests who have agreed to stick around while I just sneak in a commercial break. Both of them are familiar with these two. Coming up. Our guests weigh in on what Trump calls the most important speech of his presidency. Even though most Americans aren't aware he delivered it at all today when we come back.


WILLIAMS: We are back with our guests for what passes for the lightning round tonight. James Carville and Maya Wiley remain with us.

Maya, I have looked through presidential history. Jerry Ford didn't want to pardon his kids. Jimmy Carter, there's no request to pardon his kids as he was leaving office. I can't find one. Why would innocent people want to even investigate the possibility of a preemptive pardon for their kids?

WILEY: Well, maybe because they're facing potential criminal liability. You want to protect them from their criminal liability. I mean, it's really that simple. It's like, you know, people who don't have anything to worry about. Don't worry about pardons.

And here's the thing and let's just take Ivanka Trump just one example. We've got the District of Columbia, looking at her conduct and whether it's fraudulent. We have the state of New York, in our own attorney general here in New York State, looking at whether she has, you know, falsified documents in terms of how she was getting reimbursement for her own fees. We have already seen a Trump family that had a foundation that it was using as a personal slush fund. And we have the issue of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, the back in 2012, was talking about whether Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were engaging in fraud and how they were dealing with some real estate they owned in Soho in New York City.

This is not a family that has avoided the whiffs of corruption and fraud. This is a family business and it is a family business that has been under investigation. And that has a family business that entered the White House. And there are many reasons in which we have plenty of evidence to suggest that Donald Trump has plenty of reasons to worry about his children. And it is because he has made the swamp the swampest we've ever seen.

WILIAMS: And Maya right quick to follow up those. Those cases you just mentioned, local district of Columbia, local New York City State of New York, pardon from no matter who the President is don't touch those. Right?

WILEY: Exactly. So here's the point. He made preemptively pardon them that only applies to potential federal criminal allegations. It has nothing to do what the New York State Attorney General or the District Attorney's Office, or New York with regard to and remember what they either did around the Trump Inaugural Committee, what they did around the Trump Organization, because they were using their business as we heard from Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's personal attorney, they were using the business as their own, essentially their own slash fund when the President paid pay off money, hush money for women who were sleeping with before the election.

So their issues there that relate to how the Trump Organization as a business is operated. And there is no hard from state level.

WILLIAMS: James Carville, over to you president ranted for 46 minutes had to be taped in the White House and released through social media. Again, I think they were pretty clear I that had the network's carried even the start of it. We probably would have bailed out with the first false assessment from the president.

Can the Democrats convert in Georgia? It's a tall mountain. It's a tall order. Not one but two Senate races. But as you mentioned in your first answer, they're getting a big assist from the Republicans there.

CARVILLE: Right. Republicans are making it all about Trump and all about your book. And if Robin Warnock and Mr. Osheroff, it just make it about people of Georgia, right, and make it about raising the minimum wage. You know, they don't have Medicaid expansion in Georgia, could have another ticket, save. I don't know how many rural hospitals.

If they talk about those kind of issues, I think they could break through and do very well, because right now, the only issue that anybody is talking about in Georgia is Trump or how they counted the votes. When I think if they just pivoted the segue, and started talking about people and start talking about people's lives, I think there's a golden opportunity to outstanding candidates there. And I think they could do it. I really do.

But don't talk about process or talk about the election, talk about people, and that that'll get people out to vote, get people excited. And you might be able to cut into some of these Trump people, you know, because they have been economic hardship. People of Georgia, people in this country are suffering right now.

I mean, they not -- so Trump is not the first thing on their mind and locked down, they got no wages, they got children at home that need education. And we got this election back toward people, not people all over Georgia. I think we can do that. And I'm optimistic we got a real shot there.

WILLIAMS: Much obliged to these two friends of our broadcast to James Carville, to Maya Wiley, greatly appreciate you will be joining us tonight and taking our questions. Thank you both. Coming up what life indeed could look like for Ivanka, Jared, DJ, TJ, Eric, after January the 20th when we come back.


WILLIAMS: Back to this report that the President is considering preemptive pardons for his three oldest children. Back with us again tonight someone who can talk on this subject Emily Jane Fox, national correspondent for Vanity Fair, who has extensively covered this family and happens to be the author of "Born Trump: Inside America's First Family."

Emily, let's start with this DC case the, the briefest kind of overview of it, as I understand it correctly, if I'm wrong, the crux of it is business was funneled to Trump properties at inflated prices, it is alleged.

EMILY JANE FOX, VANITY FAIR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. Now, one of the hallmarks of this era of the Trump administration and even his inauguration before it is that everyone around the president seems to have saved everything and recorded everything. And that comes into play here because Stephanie Winston Wolkoff who planned the inauguration, who is Melania Trump's former very close friend, is one of those people who saved and recorded everything and I'm not a lawyer, but I would imagine that that will be a treasure trove for investigators who are now looking into that.

And from my reporting on Stephanie Winston Wolkoff on what she wrote on in her book about the inauguration. And based on what she said on this network, it's very clear that everyone in the Trump family, according to her, was clued in on every bit of the planning that was happening during the inauguration.

So if the investigators in the District of Columbia are looking into this as they are and have now deposed Ivanka Trump as of yesterday and will deposed Stephanie Winston Wolkoff next week, the relationship to the Trump family to the inauguration will be of great interest.

And one of the things that I keep thinking about is that if Ivanka Trump does return to New York after she leaves Washington when her father leaves office, her apartment is a scamp walk away from Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, it is in the building where Michael Cohen lives. And that's just one of the reasons why she faces an interesting to return to New York if she does decide to move back.

WILLIAMS: Oh, that'll get fun. Is that your reporting? Is it your understanding that it's the Trump kids asking for requesting hinting at the potential for preemptive pardons?

FOX: It would not at all. I know this reporting is sound it would not at all surprise me based on what I have learned over the last five years about the Trump family. This is truly the ultimate rich kid perk. Some rich kids get a BMW when they're 16. Others get access to a trust fund when they're 25.

The Trump kids have really pulled off the ultimate rich kid perk. And when they turned 40 to 39 and 36, respectively, they asked daddy for a pardon. And it is just an indication of how they have behaved in this reality where they wanted to take advantage of every possibility that their father could bring to them and every step of the way, and this is really the ultimate expression of that.

WILLIAMS: I knew there was something I forgot to ask my dad when he was alive. Emily Jane Fox, we'll have you back we want to talk about the potential for other pardons including but not limited to the father of Jared Kushner. Emily Jane Fox, Vanity Fair. Thank you so much as always for coming on.

Coming up for us. If you live in the UK, you could be days away from getting the first dose of the vaccine. More on that pandemic milestone what it means for the rest of the world when we come back.


WILLIAMS: Hey, just in the last few minutes and aide to former President George W. Bush, 43, said the former President is willing when the time comes to get in line and get his vaccination in person on camera for the world to see much as Elvis Presley did on The Ed Sullivan Show when the polio vaccine came out, because public acceptance is critical.

In fact, by next week, as we mentioned, people in Great Britain will be able to do just that roll up their sleeves for the vaccine. U.K. is the first Western nation to approve the Pfizer version. And the speed of this effort has been astonishing. Our report on the rollout effort tonight from NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The potential turning point millions have been waiting for with approval this morning. People in the U.K. can start getting the Pfizer vaccine early next week, the first western country to move from the trial phase to vaccinating the public.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We've been waiting and hoping for the day when the search lights of science would pick out our invisible enemy and give us the power to stop that enemy.

ENGEL: Distribution is a challenge. The Pfizer vaccine requires a two-dose course, 21 days between shots and it has to be stored at ultra cold temperatures. So the rollout will begin in hospitals with cold storage, prioritizing the over 80, next time the elderly in care homes and after it will go out in batches descending by age group.

The military will assist football stadiums, conference centers and town halls are expected to become vaccination centers.

(on camera): By January even local pharmacies here will be able to give the shots. This is the biggest and by far the most complex vaccination program in British history.

(voice-over): The Pfizer vaccine was developed with the European company BioNTech. I spoke to its inventor, Ugur Sahin.

UGUR SAHIN, BIONTECH FOUNDER: This is an extremely important milestone and we appear underneath and grateful that we achieved this milestone.

ENGEL (on camera): How do you think history will remember what we are embarking on now?

SAHIN: It's indeed the beginning of the end of the pandemic.

ENGEL: Words we've long to hear now finally backed by action to make them so. Richard Engel, NBC News, London.


WILLIAMS: How great is it to hear that. Coming up after our final break. He is the only member of the U.S. Senate who has not always lived on this planet. And who among us can say that after all.



MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Do you solemnly swear that you will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. They will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. Do you take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion and that you will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which you're about to enter so help you God.


PENCE: Congratulations, Senator.


WILLIAMS: Senator Sinema holding the Bible there. Last thing before we go tonight, Mark Kelly, as you see there is now a U.S. senator from Arizona. He was sworn in today to occupy John McCain's old senate seat. He beat fellow military veteran and failed Trump acolyte Martha McSalley in that special election, and without being trite Mark Kelly's life thus far has been one of soaring highs and crushing lows.

He becomes the fourth astronaut in our history elected to Congress, John Glenn, of course was the first and indeed he may yet decide he prefers space to the Senate chamber. Kelly spent a combined 54 days in space over for shuttle missions. Prior to that as a naval aviator and test pilot he flew combat missions in Desert Storm.

So Mitch McConnell should note he doesn't scare easily. He would likely not be in the Senate. We're not for a horrible morning in a supermarket parking lot in Tucson, Arizona in 2011. His wife Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords survived an assassination attempt that day and for nine years now has been working valiantly, every day to recover from those wounds.

Giffords and her husband both gun owners embarked on a national campaign to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Just yesterday, Kelly and Giffords made an important stop at the cemetery in Annapolis. The final resting place of John McCain, a revered American military hero, longtime POW, U.S. Senator, Republican presidential nominee.

His name and memory sadly have been savaged by the incumbent president, but it is now clear his name and memory will live on with the new Democratic senator from Arizona.

And that is our broadcast for this Wednesday night with our thanks to you for joining us. On behalf of the men and women at the network's of NBC News, good night.


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